Section 5: Management and accountability

Corporate governance

Corporate governance provides a framework for setting objectives, achieving deliverables, ensuring compliance with relevant legislation, and monitoring and improving the Commission's performance.

The Commission's senior leadership team is expected to lead and model good governance and accountability behaviours.

Policy

The Commission's governance policy encourages the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of resources by:

  • clearly articulating the accountabilities, responsibilities and authority to act associated with the roles and functions of staff
  • describing the planning and monitoring of inputs and outputs
  • continually improving governance practices and policy frameworks
  • educating employees and other stakeholders about their roles and responsibilities.

Framework

The Commission's governance framework includes a number of formal committees, strategic and operational plans and policies, and external support structures as outlined below.

Committees

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee comprises the CEO, Deputy CEO, group general managers, the Senior Science Advisor, the Senior Manager Corporate Management and the Director Communication and Parliamentary Liaison. The committee meets fortnightly and is chaired by the CEO. Its role is to advise the CEO on policy and operational matters and to consider performance against agreed accountability frameworks.

During 2010–11 the Executive Committee considered matters such as financial management and resource allocation, performance against the Commission's Business Plan and group operational plans, policy development and implementation, changes to government administrative policy and their impact, learning and development initiatives, risk assignment and management, and external and internal reviews and their outcomes.

Management Committee

The Management Committee comprises the Deputy CEO, group general managers, the Senior Manager Corporate Management, and the Director Communication and Parliamentary Liaison. The committee meets monthly and is chaired by the Deputy CEO.

Its role is to review project management and project delivery, review financial performance against budget allocations, receive advice on human resource matters, and address other administrative matters. Because the Commission is currently managing many active projects, there is a focus on project delivery and associated expenditure plans. The committee is providing an effective mechanism for addressing project management and Commission-wide resource management.

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee operates under an Internal Audit Charter issued by the CEO, which establishes the role and responsibilities of the committee, its membership, meeting arrangements and reporting obligations. The committee comprises four Commission staff (with the Deputy CEO as chair) and an independent member, who are appointed by the CEO. The Commission's Chief Finance Officer, Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) representatives and an internal audit services provider representative are advisers to the committee. The committee's membership was last reviewed in March 2011.

The committee met five times in 2010–11. As part of its work, the committee:

  • approved the annual internal audit program and considered internal audit reviews and outcomes
  • received the ANAO report on the 2009–10 annual financial statements and recommended their adoption
  • recommended acceptance by the CEO of the Commission's certificate of compliance with financial management legislation and Australian Government financial management policies
  • received advice on changes to governance arrangements and the financial management framework and their impact on the Commission's operations, including changes to the Commission's Chief Executive Instructions.

In accordance with the strategic internal audit plan, the committee considered the following review reports by the Commission's outsourced internal audit services provider:

  • RNWS Program administration—this review considered the administration of the many grants and commissioned projects that the Commission is managing. It covered matters such as approval processes, procurement, contracting and evaluation.
  • Operations of the Expert Consultancy Services Panel—this review considered the way project officers used the panel for procurement, compliance with contractual arrangements and whether the panel delivered value for money.
  • Murray Motion reporting—this review examined the completeness and accuracy of reporting externally on contracts worth more than $100 000, in line with the relevant reporting guidelines.

The internal auditor also carried out two 'health check' compliance reviews to ensure that accountability frameworks and controls were in place and that compliance was satisfactory. The reviews covered a wide range of basic operational aspects, including purchasing, the use of credit cards, travel, asset management, taxation, and accounts payable and receivable.

While a number of better-practice recommendations were made in all the reviews, the existing controls and processes were assessed as being of an appropriate standard. No significant operational or financial risks were identified. At the end of financial year, work to implement the recommendations accepted by the Commission was continuing.

Project Administration Coordination Committee

The Project Administration Coordination Committee was established early in 2010–11 to oversee project management and support arrangements. It meets monthly, is chaired by a general manager and has representatives from all groups and from the corporate and communications teams. During the year, the committee considered changes to project management processes, enhancements to the project management system, and the training and development needs of project staff. The committee has provided a forum for identifying problems and finding solutions in the administration of the large number of Commission projects.

Knowledge Adoption Advisory Committee

The Knowledge Adoption Advisory Committee was established in 2010 to oversee the $3 million Knowledge Adoption project by managing its budget, considering theme plans and approving funding bids. The committee is chaired by the Deputy CEO and includes the Sustainable Water Management General Manager, the Senior Manager Corporate Management, and the Director Communication and Parliamentary Liaison.

Corporate documents

Business Plan

The Commission's Business Plan, which identifies strategic and operational priorities for the next three years, is an important component of the Commission's governance framework. The 2010–13 Business Plan was developed by senior staff and team leaders and was formally endorsed by the Executive Committee in July 2010. Group operational plans for 2010–11 were also established at that time. The Executive reviewed the business plan through six-monthly reporting on the implementation of the group operational plans, allowing for recognition of achievements and appropriate corrective actions if required.

A strategic planning workshop involving the Commission Chair, Executive Committee members and team leaders was convened in June 2011. Workshop participants reviewed the Commission's progress towards achieving the key priorities set out in the 2010–13 Business Plan and discussed the current strategic and operating environments.

The workshop agreed on the key strategic direction and deliverables for the next update of the Business Plan for 2011–12, which were further developed for endorsement by the Executive Committee in July 2011, together with group operational plans for 2011–12. Individual staff performance agreements are linked to the group plans.

Business Continuity Plan

Following the endorsement of the Commission's Business Continuity Plan in mid-2010 and consistent with best practice, a desktop-based test of the plan's effectiveness was conducted in September 2010. In testing the reactions of the crisis management team during this exercise, some areas for improvement were identified. The improvements have now been incorporated into the plan.

A specific ICT Disaster Recovery Plan was completed in June 2011. It addresses disaster recovery protocols and processes in the Commission's information and communications technology systems.

Strategic and operational policy

In 2010–11, the Chief Executive Instructions (CEIs) and human resource policies were updated to reflect changes in government policy or to improve accountability. Official hospitality, staff performance management and procurement were reviewed.

The Project management manual was revised in June 2011 to incorporate changes in operational arrangements required to deal with project cancellations and terminations. The manual continues to be a key resource for the administration of Commission projects.

Detailed instructions on the use of the Expert Consultancy Services Panel were issued to provide a more comprehensive framework for procurement from the panel and to better address accountability requirements.

The Commission's financial management system was enhanced to improve reporting of information to meet Murray Motion and AusTender contract reporting requirements. Related changes to purchase orders were made to capture required information on entering into a financial liability.

Training workshops on the FMA Act and financial delegations were attended by 95% of the Commission's staff. The workshops improved staff's understanding of their responsibilities arising from the financial management frameworks under which the Commission operates.

Ethical standards

Standards of appropriate behaviour for employees of the Commission are those set out in the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and Values established by the Public Service Act 1999. The application of the code and values within the Commission is set out in policy and procedures issued by the CEO and in the Commission's certified agreement.

Financial management and accountability requirements for the Commission are laid down in the CEIs, which are issued by the CEO under the FMA Act. All staff are made aware of their legal obligations under the CEIs and their clear responsibilities for ethical behaviour under the Commission's procurement policy and guidelines.

Values in the workplace

The Commission uses the following set of values to guide staff behaviours:

  • We will demonstrate our values in the way we do our work and how we relate to our colleagues and stakeholders.
  • We will demonstrate rigour when we apply an accurate, thorough, analytical, evidence-based approach.
  • We will demonstrate transparency through consistent application of process, clearly explained operating methods and regular feedback on progress.
  • We will show decisiveness by being proactive and outcome-oriented and by delivering what we promise in a timely manner.
  • Our relationships will be collaborative when we are responsive and proactive in identifying and addressing stakeholder issues. We will work with stakeholders to develop mutually satisfactory outcomes.
  • We will demonstrate decent working relationships by being courteous, civil, respectful, honest and open to diverse viewpoints. We will be supportive of our colleagues.
  • We will have a motivating workplace when we show our willingness to take on Commission roles and activities over and above our own job, when we openly share information and ideas, when we accept a diversity of views from our colleagues and when we participate in professional and social interactions.

Client Service Charter

The Commission's Client Service Charter provides commitments and undertakings in relation to service standards and complaints resolution. As expressed in the charter, the Commission aims to be:

  • results-oriented, working to its highest ability to provide excellent service
  • client-focused, working in partnership with its clients
  • committed to improving its skills.

Table 5.1 summarises the Commission's performance against the charter in 2010–11.

Table 5.1: Summary of performance against the Client Serv ice Charter, 2010–11
Performance indicator
Actions taken in 2010–11
1. We are results-oriented, working to our highest ability to provide excellent service, by:
  • providing a prompt, accurate and relevant response to client enquiries
  • including contact names and numbers in our information and correspondence, to enable clients to contact the person best able to assist them
  • being honest, professional and accountable, behaving ethically, accepting responsibility for our actions and learning from our mistakes.
The Commission:
  • responded to emails received through enquiries@nwc.gov.au within one working day
  • responded to written correspondence within 14 days of receipt
  • provided contact names and numbers of project managers in correspondence when relevant
  • sought advice on areas outside its expertise from relevant government organisations, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; the Bureau of Meteorology; the MDBA; the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; and state authorities
  • implemented measures to expedite the negotiation of draft agreements, so that proponents were engaged and projects commenced more efficiently
  • maintained active communication with clients after project approval to ensure successful project delivery.
2. We are client-focused, and work in partnership with our clients by:
  • providing information to assist clients to understand government policies and programs
  • providing clear, accurate, ongoing advice and information when administering programs
  • informing clients about, and explaining, decisions that affect them
  • giving clients reasonable time to respond to our proposals
  • aiming to ensure that the information we provide is easily accessible
  • consulting about future directions, using client feedback to monitor and improve our performance.
The Commission:
  • provided verbal and written information to clients on government policies and programs
  • articulated deadlines well in advance, particularly for contractual negotiations
  • updated clients and steering committees on the progress of projects
  • contacted clients to help them improve proposals and understand the Commission's and program objectives.
3. We are committed to improving our skills by:
  • being open to new ideas, originality and vision
  • sharing our knowledge to build a learning culture and improve our performance
  • working in partnership with our clients and sharing information to achieve our mutual goals.
The Commission:
  • arranged training courses and seminars for staff
  • maintained active communication for mutual knowledge transfer with other government organisations, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Bureau of Meteorology, the MDBA and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
  • maintained links with stakeholders and client groups through a range of formal stakeholder engagement mechanisms, including the Stakeholder Reference Group and the Stakeholder Forum, specialist or technical committees (such as the Groundwater Technical Advisory Group), and the Commission's website and e-newsletter, Distilled
  • evaluated progress on project development and implementation through stakeholder/client liaison and review.

Fraud Control Plan

The Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines require the Commission to undertake a fraud risk assessment and to establish a fraud control plan to ensure that appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures and processes are in place.

Following an independent review of the Commission's fraud risk environment in 2010, a new 2010–2013 Fraud Control Plan was developed to address identified risks and recommend mitigation strategies. The plan was agreed by the Commission's Executive Committee in August 2010 and notified to the Audit and Risk Committee, which monitors fraud management through a standing item on its agenda.

Staff workshops on fraud risk were conducted in August 2010 to raise awareness and to provide advice on how to report concerns about fraudulent behaviour by staff or contractors; 98% of staff attended the workshops. No fraudulent acts in the Commission were reported in 2010–11.

The CEO certifies that the Commission has in place appropriate fraud detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes, and has prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans that meet the Commission's needs and comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

Risk management

The Commission accepts that risk is part of every aspect of its operations and that having an appropriate strategy for identifying and managing risk is critical. Within that context, an independent risk review is commissioned annually.

Following a review in June 2010, the Strategic Risk Management Plan 2010–13 was agreed by the Executive Committee in August 2010 and notified to the Audit and Risk Committee. The plan identified no major risks, but recommended additional treatments to mitigate medium- and low-risk activities; those treatments were implemented in 2010–11. The Executive Committee considers the management of identified and emerging risks as a standing item on its agenda. The Audit and Risk Committee also considers risk matters as a standing item.

Mindful of the short timeframe available for the delivery of the many projects active under the RNWS Program (currently scheduled to end on 30 June 2012), a program risk review was commissioned to identify specific risks and ensure the deployment of appropriate processes to manage and mitigate them. The RNWS Risk Management Plan was agreed by the Executive Committee in April 2011 and notified to the Audit and Risk Committee.

External scrutiny

The Commission's 2009–10 annual report was tabled in parliament on 27 October 2010 and distributed to more than 500 stakeholders. The report subsequently won two awards in the Institute of Public Administration's ACT Annual Report Awards, taking out the Gold Award in the FMA Act agencies online category, and the Silver Award in the FMA Act agencies hard-copy category.

In accordance with the Australian Government's financial management policy, the ANAO undertakes a review of the Commission's financial statements and provides a report to the responsible Minister and parliament.

There were no decisions or reports by other external bodies (such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman or parliamentary committees) concerning the Commission during 2010–11.

No judicial or administrative decisions about Commission activities were handed down during the year.

Freedom of information

The Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FoI Act). Section 8 of the Act requires Australian Government departments and agencies to make available information about their organisation, functions and operations, and about rules and practices used in making decisions that affect members of the public. Under section 8 of the FoI Act, the Commission is required to report details of arrangements whereby members of the public can participate in certain kinds of decision making. That information is elsewhere in this annual report (see Section 3 for an overview).

From 1 May 2011, agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. In accordance with the IPS requirements, an agency plan showing what information is published is accessible from the Commission's website.

In 2010–11, the Commission received three requests for documents pursuant to the FoI Act.

The Commission consults members of the public and bodies outside the Australian Government when developing policy and programs, and receives advice from various scientific and expert committees and other bodies (see 'Client Service Charter' in this section and 'Engaging with stakeholders' in Section 4).

The Commission maintains the following categories of documents:

  • internal administration documents, including:
    • agendas and minutes of meetings of senior officers
    • memorandums of understanding
    • reports relating to research and projects undertaken
    • documents relating to human resource and facilities management
    • ministerial, interdepartmental and general correspondence
    • financial reports, expenditure estimates and expenditure reports
  • parliamentary papers, including:
    • briefing papers prepared for, and submissions to, the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary
    • answers to parliamentary questions
  • other departmental files, including:
    • FoI request files and papers relevant to considering those requests
    • reports and working papers resulting from internal audit reviews
  • speeches by senior personnel, media releases and press clippings.

Material held by the Commission is consistent with National Archives of Australia disposal schedules. Policy, program and corporate documents are held in both hard-copy and electronic formats. More information about program guidelines and governance documentation is available from the Commission's website under its FOI section.

Procedures and initial contact point

A request for access to documents under the FoI Act must be made in writing, by either mail or email, and must specifically state that it is an application for the purposes of the FoI Act. A return address or email address to which the documents can be sent must also be provided.

To enable a prompt response and to help the Commission meet its obligations under the FoI Act, applicants should provide as much information as possible about the documents they are seeking. It is also advisable to include a telephone number and/or an email address, to allow officers handling the request to contact the applicant in case clarification is needed.

If applicants are dissatisfied with a decision made under the FoI Act, they may apply for an internal review in writing.

Requests for information under the FoI Act must be sent to:

The FoI Coordinator
National Water Commission
95 Northbourne Ave
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Phone: 02 6102 6016
Email: FoI.coordinator@nwc.gov.au

Where access under the FoI Act has been granted, a reading room and photocopying facilities are available at the Commission's offices for the examination of documents. People with disabilities can obtain information about special access arrangements from the FoI Coordinator.

Under the new legislation, no application fee is charged for an FoI request; however, the FoI Act allows for fees and charges associated with the processing of a request to be charged by an agency, at its discretion.

Information Publication Scheme

In May 2011, the Commission met its mandatory IPS requirements for proactive publication of information, and also published its IPS Agency Plan outlining how it will continue to meet those requirements for its information holdings.

The Commission proactively identifies and grasps opportunities for the publication of its information holdings, mainly to facilitate public engagement but also to meet its IPS and FoI Act requirements.

In accordance with the new requirement from 1 May 2011 to publish a register of information that has been released in response to requests under the FoI Act, the Commission has established an online disclosure log. The log, which provides access to particular information provided in response to FoI requests, has been updated within 10 working days after access has been given to an FoI applicant.

Human resources

Staffing statistics

At 30 June 2011, the Commission employed 74 staff, of whom 23 were employed as non-ongoing employees and two were on long-term leave. Nine staff members worked part time, while the remainder worked full time.

During 2010–11, the Commission's average staffing level was 60.3 full-time equivalent staff (Figure 5.1). This takes into account the number of staff on long-term leave and a higher number of staff employed in part-time positions during the reporting period. Three staff members were employed outside Canberra. Details of classifications and the gender profile of staff at 30 June 2011 are set out in tables 5.2, 5.4, and 5.6. Tables 5.3, 5.5 and 5.7 give corresponding data for the previous year.

Staff turnover and retention

In 2010–11, the Commission had a staff turnover rate of 13.5%, compared to rates of 5% for 2009–10, 14% for 2008–09 and 19% for 2007–08.

As a small agency, the Commission is not able to provide the level of career progression or work diversity that many staff desire, so a higher staff turnover rate than is found in larger agencies is expected. Considering this challenge, it is gratifying that turnover in 2010–11 was below the mean for the previous four years.

Figure 5.1: Average staffing level, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Average staffing level, 2006-07 to 2010-11 text description

Table 5.2: Number of ongoing and non-ongoing employees at 30 June 2011, by classification and gender
Classification
Non-ongoing
Ongoing
Total
Female
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
APS 4
1
1
2
1
3
4
APS 5
1
1
4
4
5
APS 6
11
2
13
6
3
9
22
EL 1
3
3
6
12
9
21
27
EL 2
1
1
3
7
10
11
SES Band 1
1
2
3
3
SES Band 2
1
1
1
CEO
1
1
1
Total
16
6
22
29
23
52
74
Table 5.3: Number of ongoing and non-ongoing employees at 30 June 2010, by classification and gender
Classification
Non-ongoing
Ongoing
Total
Female
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
APS 4
2
2
3
3
5
APS 5
2
2
2
APS 6
1
1
6
5
11
12
EL 1
3
4
7
13
6
19
26
EL 2
1
1
2
4
6
7
SES Band 1
1
2
3
3
SES Band 2
1
1
1
CEO
1
1
1
Total
6
5
11
27
19
46
57
Table 5.4: Number of full-time and part-time employees at 30 June 2011, by classification and gender
Classification
Full-time
Part-time
Total
Female
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
APS 4
3
1
4
4
APS 5
4
4
1
1
5
APS 6
16
5
21
1
1
22
EL 1
10
11
21
5
1
6
27
EL 2
3
7
10
1
1
11
SES Band 1
1
2
3
3
SES Band 2
1
1
1
CEO
1
1
1
Total
38
27
65
7
2
9
74
Table 5.5: Number of full-time and part-time employees at 30 June 2010, by classification and gender
Classification
Full-time
Part-time
Total
Female
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
APS 4
4
4
1
1
5
APS 5
2
2
2
APS 6
7
5
12
12
EL 1
12
9
21
4
1
5
26
EL 2
2
4
6
1
1
7
SES Band 1
1
2
3
3
SES Band 2
1
1
1
CEO
1
1
1
Total
28
21
49
5
3
8
57
Table 5.6: Number of staff members at 30 June 2011, by work area and gender
Female
Male
Total
Assessment and Policy Coordination Group
12
9
21
Sustainable Water Management Group
12
7
19
Water Markets and Efficiency Group
5
7
12
Corporate Management Team
6
5
11
Communication and Parliamentary Liaison Team
7
7
Executive and Administration
3
1
4
Table 5.7: Number of staff members at 30 June 2010, by work area and gender
Female
Male
Total
Assessment and Policy Coordination Group
8
6
14
Sustainable Water Management Group
10
4
14
Water Markets and Efficiency Group
2
7
9
Corporate Management Team
6
4
10
Communication and Parliamentary Liaison Team
5
1
6
Executive and Administration
2
2
4

Learning and development

The Commission invests significantly in the development of its staff to enable them to have the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their roles effectively. In 2010–11, the Commission:

  • supported two staff to participate in Australia and New Zealand School of Government courses
  • conducted in-house science seminars and workshops (see Appendix C for details)
  • provided training for all staff in financial management and associated processes
  • provided training for project officers in the use of the Commission's project management information system.

The identification of learning opportunities and requirements is a key aspect of the Commission's performance management system. Where common learning requirements are identified among a number of staff, the Commission considers engaging trainers to conduct in-house workshops to meet those needs more cost-effectively.

The Commission's staff performance management framework provides for managers and staff to identify development activities that will improve staff performance. Under the framework, staff took up a range of development opportunities, including in program performance and evaluation, leadership, communication and government administration.

Remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment

All staff of the Commission are appointed under the Public Service Act 1999. Commissioners (including the Chair) are appointed by the Governor-General in accordance with the requirements of the National Water Commission Act 2004. The Chief Executive Officer is appointed by the Minister.

The terms and conditions of employment for Senior Executive Service (SES) staff are negotiated and agreed as common law contracts. The terms and conditions for Commissioners and the Chief Executive Officer are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.

The National Water Commission Collective Agreement 2008–2012 provides the terms and conditions of employment for non-SES staff, including ongoing, non-ongoing and casual staff. The collective agreement provides for salary increases of 4.3% on 1 October of each year during the life of the agreement. The increases are covered by productivity improvements included in the agreement, such as increased hours of duty (38 hours per week); no new negotiations for four years; reduced travel costs and a reduction in the Commission's carbon footprint through the use of video conferencing and travel bundling; and commitments to deliver specific continuous improvements in the Commission's operations.

Non-salary benefits provided in the agreement include flexible working arrangements, salary packaging, access to available on-site car parking, a Christmas / New Year shutdown, relocation assistance, access to home-based work, access to an employee assistance program and employee professional development.

Commission salary bands for Executive Level and APS employees at 30 June 2011 are set out in Table 5.8.

Table 5.8: Salary bands for Executive Level and APS staff, 30 June 2011
Level
Salary band
Executive Level 2
$101 931 – $121 313
Executive Level 1
$87 575 – $112 690
APS 6
$72 502 – $81 806
APS 5
$63 528 – $68 913
APS 4
$57 068 – $62 092
APS 3
$51 326 – $55 274
APS 2
$44 864 – $49 889
APS 1
$39 842 – $43 787

The Commission has a performance bonus pay policy that acknowledges staff for their personal work achievements as a contribution to the success of the Commission. The performance management framework requires managers to establish with their staff the outcomes to be achieved, in line with the group operational plan and the Commission's Business Plan. A bonus of up to 12% may be paid, based on the performance rating that is achieved. Staff can elect to take the payment as a lump sum, an increase in salary or a combination of the two.

Performance bonuses for the 2009–10 assessment cycle were awarded to 49 staff during 2010–11 and totalled $240 511. The payments, by classification ranges (aggregated to protect individuals' privacy), are set out in Table 5.9.

Table 5.9: Performance bonus payments to staff, 2009–10 assessment cycle
Level
Staff paid
Amount paid
Average
Ranges
APS 4 to 6
16
$52 597
$3 287
$1 040 – $6 249
Executive Level 1 and 2
29
$147 939
$5 101
$545 – $11 140
Senior management
4
$39 975
$9 994
Not disclosed

To improve the link between the Commission's business planning and the performance management framework, the Commission took the decision, in consultation with staff, to align performance assessment cycles with financial years for current and future assessments. This decision has resulted in the 2010–11 assessment cycle being changed to cover the period from 1 September 2010 to 30 June 2011. As a result, the Commission paid a second performance bonus to 51 staff at a total cost of $218 263 in 2010–11. The payments, by classification ranges (aggregated to protect individuals' privacy), are set out in Table 5.10.

Table 5.10: Performance bonus payments to staff, 2010–11 assessment cycle
Level
Staff paid
Amount paid
Average
Ranges
APS 4 to 6
18
$53 771
$2 987
$1 322 – $5 419
Executive Level 1 and 2
31
$142 018
$4 581
$658 – $10 263
Senior management
2
$22 474
$11 237
Not disclosed

Occupational health and safety

The Commission is committed to safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of staff and contractors while they are at work, and to preventing occupational injury.

The Commission's Health and Safety Committee, which includes representatives from management and staff, meets four times a year to review the Commission's occupational health and safety arrangements. An outsourced provider provides guidance and support to the Occupational Health and Safety Manager and the committee and also undertakes workplace assessments and employee rehabilitation planning as required. In 2010–11 the committee considered a number of matters, including a review of the health and safety management arrangements, outcomes from workplace inspections and actions taken, health and safety representative training, building refurbishment and staff relocations.

The Commission maintains its health and safety management arrangements on the computer network so that they are available to all staff. Staff are also provided with information, by email and the computer network, on the activities of the Health and Safety Committee, hazard and risk identification inspections, and other health and safety initiatives. Health and safety arrangements and processes are addressed during induction sessions for all new staff.

In 2010–11 the Commission conducted 33 workstation assessments, tested and tagged all electrical equipment and, through the agent of the building owner, replaced defective floor coverings with new carpets throughout the building. In accordance with the Commission's health and safety policy, six-monthly inspections of workplaces were conducted; while some minor matters were identified, all were resolved quickly.

A variety of health and wellbeing initiatives were conducted during Health Week to promote healthy lifestyles. They included eyesight testing, general health screening, and information on nutrition and healthy eating. The influenza vaccination service provided by the Commission was taken up by 38% of staff.

The Commission had no new compensation claims during the year and closed the only existing case. There were no reported or reportable incidents. At 30 June 2011, the Commission had not had any accidents or dangerous occurrences covered by the relevant sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (sections 29, 45, 46, 47 and 68).

As a result of the Commission's health and safety management activities in 2010–11 and prior years, the Commission was able to maintain a low claims outcome.

Workplace consultative arrangements

The Commission maintains an open consultative process with its staff through fortnightly all-staff meetings. Staff are kept informed of the range of management and operational issues to build their understanding of the work of the Commission, external factors that affect the Commission's work and operational matters that directly influence their duties.

The National Water Commission Collective Agreement 2008–2012 also provides for a formal consultative mechanism—the Workplace Consultative Committee—with the role of advising the CEO on matters arising from the operations of the agreement. The committee consists of representatives of the CEO and staff and meets up to four times each year. It considers such matters as changes to operational policy, office accommodation, training and development, and reports from the Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Staff have the opportunity to raise workplace matters through their committee representatives.

The Workplace Consultative Committee met formally on three occasions in 2010–11 to consider a range of issues, including:

  • the introduction and use of new video conferencing facilities
  • a staff capability review aimed at maintaining Commission staff into the future
  • a review of performance management procedures, including changes to assessment cycles
  • the introduction of a social networking policy
  • human resource issues that may arise out of the pending review of the Commission's role and function.

The Commission in the community

The Commission is a strong supporter of local, national and international communities in need, including through fundraising and participation.

For example, only a very small proportion of Australians (one in 30) donate blood, but sooner or later one in three will need it. The Commission has approximately 29 active blood donors contributing to this vital cause, and its blood donation rate statistics, based on percentages of staff, won it first place in the 2010–11 Corporate Blood Challenge for the 'Highest Percentage of Donations in the Public Sector' category.

Fundraising initiatives included participation in Australia's Biggest Morning Tea to support the Cancer Council, and the Ovarian Cancer Australia Afternoon Teal event.

Financial management

Grants

The Commission does not have a specified discretionary grants program. However, financial assistance in the form of grants has been provided through the RNWS Program to state and territory departments and agencies and other organisations to help them implement various aspects of water reform.

Information on grants awarded by the Commission since 1 January 2010 in the form required by government guidelines is available on the Commission's website under its corporate governance pages.

Legal services

In 2010–11 the Commission sought legal advice from its legal services panel, which comprised the Australian Government Solicitor and DLA Phillips Fox. Expenditure on legal services in 2010–11 was $63 059.

The term of the legal services panel expired in May 2011. It was decided that rather than establish a new panel the Commission would seek to make use of the legal services panel administered by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. That arrangement was agreed and took effect in July 2011.

Further information on the Commission's legal expenditure in the form required by government guidelines is available on the corporate governance section of the Commission's website.

Competitive tendering and contracting

The Commission's CEIs and financial guidelines require compliance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. All contracts let during the year included a provision for access to the suppliers' premises, and records associated with Commission contracts, by the Auditor-General. An internal audit review of the Commission's procurement and contracting arrangements concluded that they complied with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.

All contracts worth more than $10 000 entered into by the Commission in 2010–11 were lodged on AusTender; no contracts were exempted by the CEO from being published on AusTender on the basis that publication would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Consultancies

The Commission engages consultants through its Expert Consultancy Services Panel or through procurement methods used to purchase other goods and services.

Consultancy services are used in a wide range of areas, such as obtaining independent advice; undertaking research and analysis; preparing papers and briefs; and providing technical advice that is not otherwise available to the Commission. In 2010–11, the Commission used consultancies to support work on the 2011 biennial assessment, audit and assessment activities, administrative policy advice, internal audit and legal services, program reviews and the development of governance plans.

During 2010–11, the Commission entered into 139 new consultancy contracts, involving a total expenditure of $6.509 million. There were also 52 consultancy contracts that extended from the previous financial year, involving total actual expenditure of $14.485 million. Ninety-seven new consultancies had a value of more than $10 000. In accordance with annual reporting guidelines, details of the consultancies let in 2010–11 are provided in Appendix D. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

Advertising and market research

During 2010–11, the Commission conducted advertising for recruitment, program and general information purposes. No advertising or market research with a value greater than $11 200 was undertaken during the financial year.

Information technology

The Commission's information technology is provided primarily through a shared services arrangement with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The arrangement is working successfully and is providing security, business continuity and service level agreement outcomes that the Commission could not achieve by managing IT systems in its own right.

During the year, the Clarity project management system was upgraded to the latest release and a new 'cloud computing' operating environment was established with Macquarie Telecom. The upgrade of both the system and the hardware provides a greater level of assurance for the delivery of this critical business system.

As an agency under the FMA Act, the Commission is also required to comply with the guidance in AGIMO circular no. 2010/005, Implementation of upgraded accessibility standard across Australian Government websites. This requires the Commission's website to conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) Level A by 31 December 2012, and to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA by 31 December 2014. The Commission is working towards conformance with WCAG 2.0 requirements.

Environmental performance

The sustainable management and use of Australia's water resources is the core business of the Commission. Consequently, ecologically sustainable development (ESD) is a crucial element of its activities. While the legal and regulatory framework for the Commission does not explicitly refer to ESD, it addresses all five ESD principles:

  • Decision-making processes effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations.
  • If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty is not used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
  • The present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
  • The conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity is a fundamental consideration in decision making.
  • Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms are being promoted.

The principles are addressed by the following mechanisms:

  • The National Water Initiative (NWI) has specific environmental clauses (73, 78 and 79).
  • Implementation plans from states and territories detail how each will meet its obligations under the NWI.
  • The RNWS Program guidelines require that 'all projects must meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999' to be eligible for funding.

Resolving tensions in water management is an inherent part of the NWI. Clause 2 of the NWI reflects this commitment:

Governments have a responsibility to ensure that water is allocated and used to achieve socially and economically beneficial outcomes in a manner that is environmentally sustainable.

Commission staff in the policy and program areas are aware of their role in managing the environmental aspects of their work. Many staff have substantial backgrounds in environmental management. Ongoing discussion sessions and presentations are held to ensure that staff are kept abreast of current water issues in Australia.

The Commission has documented no instances in which ESD principles have been used to modify a decision. However, as demonstrated above, much of the Commission's core business takes account of the ESD principles.

Environmental performance in the National Water Commission workplace

The conduct of the Commission's own business reflects ESD principles:

  • The Commission has in place paper and plastic recycling, triple-A rated water-wise toilets and water-efficient taps. It has also installed a greywater recycling system.
  • The Commission is conscious of the need to reduce energy consumption and has been progressively implementing an energy savings program involving such initiatives as mechanical timer controls on lights in selected areas, a policy of staff turning off lights and computers when leaving the building, and purchases of energy-efficient equipment (Table 5.11).
  • The Commission has minimised energy use in other ways, including split lighting panels (one area of the floor can be lit while another, not being used, is unlit) and energy-saving dishwashers.
  • Since 2005, the Commission has purchased the maximum Green Choice electricity available from its supplier each year as part of its strategy to lessen its environmental impact.
  • The Commission continually seeks to improve its accommodation to minimise its impact on the environment.
Table 5.11: Energy consumption, 2006–07 to 2010–11
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
Total energy (megajoules)
1 176 240
1 067 130
1 091 181
924 303
904 687
Total less central services (50%)
588 120
533 565
545 540
462 015
452 344
Staff
50
40
50
57
74
Average (megajoules per staff member)
11 762
10 889
10 911
8 106
6 113
Variations on previous years
-18%
-7%
+0.2%
-26%
-24%

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission's State of the service report and the APS statistical bulletin. These reports are available on the Australian Public Service Commission website. From 2010–11, departments and agencies are no longer required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. A high-level report to track progress for people with disability at the national level will be produced by the Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services to the Council of Australian Governments and will be available on the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency annual reports. More detail on social inclusion matters can be found on the Social Inclusion website.